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Joint Letter Urging Vote on Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act

The following letter was signed by Jewish national organizations and individual rabbis. 

Dear Minority Leader Pelosi,

We write you as Jewish community leaders with a deep commitment to social justice and to Tikkun Olam, or “Repairing the World.” We also write at an especially solemn time for us: the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah is fast approaching, and we are busily preparing ourselves for this awesome day through reflection, repentance, and self-improvement. This is a time when we blow the Shofar horn both as a wake-up call and as a reminder of the wails of suffering children.

Our teacher Elie Wiesel taught us that wherever there is suffering, that is the center of the world. Syria is the center of the world today. Each day, we open our newspapers to see distressing images of more wailing and injured children in the city of Aleppo, which is now experiencing the worst air attacks of the entire Syrian conflict. According to the Nobel Prize nominated Syrian Civil Defense (the “White Helmets”) over the past eight days in Aleppo over 1000 civilians have been killed in over 1,700 airstrikes, 19 of them with bunker-busters; 200 of them with cluster bombs, and hospitals now declaring they’re no longer able to take in new patients. The situation has become so dire that only 30 doctors are left in Aleppo. We as Jewish leaders cannot ignore the cries of these children during such a solemn time of year — and we know that you have the power to make a difference.

The Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act of 2016 (H.R. 5732) is a bipartisan Congressional bill that promotes peace by sanctioning all Syrian regime supporters engaged in war crimes and creating incentives for the regime to negotiate. It has earned the support of prominent anti-war progressives in Congress such as Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Mike Honda (D-CA) in addition to those who favor a more robust foreign policy. The bill is truly bipartisan, because holding those who bomb and starve Syrian children to account is a no-brainer. The bill has our full support.

We have recently learned through public media, to our dismay, that you are directly responsible for preventing a vote on the bill. This is especially painful to us because Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel presciently recommended the war crimes investigation measures in this bill back in 2012. We are cognizant of the deep responsibilities of your office and of the many factors that you must consider. We also know that if Elie Wiesel were alive today, he would have wanted this bill to pass.

In just a few days, we will attend Rosh Hashanah prayer services at packed synagogues and read the humbling words, “As a shepherd herds his flock beneath his staff, so does [God] shepherd, count, number, and consider the souls of all creatures…and decree their fate.” We urge you, at this crucial time: Do not turn away from the wails of children! Do not delay a vote that could save sacred lives! Please allow a vote today.

Sincerely, The Undersigned:

  • Central Conference of American Rabbis
  • Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
  • Union for Reform Judaism
  • Rabbinical Assembly
  • Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
  • Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
  • Uri L’Tzedek
  • Rabbi Dr. Elisha Ancselovits 
  • Rabbi Daniel Askenazi 
  • Rabbi Justus Baird
  • Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo 
  • Rabbi Menachem Creditor
  • Steve Eisenbach-Budner 
  • Rabbi Jean Eglinton
  • Rabbi Dr. Zev Farber 
  • Rabbi Aaron Frank
  • Dr. Michelle Friedman 
  • Rabbi Daniel Braune Friedman
  • Rabbi Daniel Goodman
  • Rabbi Dr. Yitz Greenberg 
  • Rachel Gross-Prinz 
  • Rabbi Ari Hart
  • Rabbi Dr. Richard Hidary 
  • Rabbi David Jaffe 
  • Rabbi David Kalb 
  • Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky
  • Rabbi David Kasher
  • Rabbi Yaakov Jacob Komisar 
  • Rabbi Andy Koren
  • Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn
  • Rabbi Michael Adam Latz 
  • Rabbi Anne Lewis
  • Rabbi Yehoshua Looks 
  • Rabbi Andrea Merow
  • Rabbi Avram Mlotek
  • Rabbi Robin Leonard Nafshi 
  • Rosh Kehilah Dina Najman 
  • Rabbi Micha Odenheimer
  • Rabbi Aaron Potek
  • Rabbi Yehuda Sarna
  • Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller
  • Rabbi Eric Michael Solomon 
  • Rabbi Daniel Raphael Silverstein
  • Rabbi Victor Urecki
  • Rabbi Devin Villarreal
  • Rabbi Dr. Raysh Weiss
  • Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz
  • Maharat Ramie Smith
  • Rabbi Jason Herman
  • Rabbi Cantor Mark Perman
  • Rabbi Tracee Rosen
  • Rabbi Dean Shapiro
  • Rabbi John Linder
  • Rabbi Mari Chernow
  • Rabbi Bonnie Koppell
  • Rabbi Dr. Ariel Evan Mayse
  • Rabbi Leo Michel Abrami

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